Next weekend is Myths and Legends Con (MALCon to those in the area). This is, technically, my first time attending and I'll be vending in the Author's Nook with my co-author Olivia of Leafing Out Gardening. I'll also be on six panels throughout the weekend, mostly covering queer topics in fiction.
So I've been thinking about being queer in nerdy convention spaces.
I'll be the first to admit that, while there's a lot of overlap between nerds and the queer community, there's still some major issues in geekdom when it comes to queer-phobia. There are folks who sneer as crossplaying (cosplaying a character of a different gender), assume gender regardless of costume, look down on queer-themed merch, make comments about queer couples, and more. It can be very subtle, but it still hurts.
I've personally gotten stink eye at a couple of cons when folks saw my queer pagan prints. I've been misgendered immediately after introducing myself with my pronouns (they/them, in case you missed it) on a panel. I've had people put down books the minute they realized it had queer content. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Obviously, I'm out in convention spaces. But I'm still scared af.
I always hesitate when I introduce myself on a panel, even though most of the panels I'm on are about queer-specific topics. I always wonder if someone's going to come up to me afterward and debate my identity or the information I've shared. I unconsciously stick to my friends and stay in specific places just to make sure I'm safe.
But you know what? It's worth it.
By being out and proud at conventions, I've helped other people realize it's okay to be themselves.
Most of the time after a panel, I'll have at least one or two people come find me to talk about how much it meant that I shared my experiences. There's been at least one time when someone told me I'd introduced them to a term that perfectly described them. A couple times, folks have come up and wanted hugs because my experiences echoed theirs so deeply.
And that's important to me.
That's the entire premise behind this business: helping people realize it's okay to be themselves.
So, even though it's scary and convention spaces need a lot of work, I'm going to keep showing up and being as authentic as I can. I don't know how much of a difference I can make as one person. But I hope that, eventually, we can change the convention scene to be more welcoming and accepting to people who aren't cis-het white folks.
Nonir is a queer pagan nerd and writes about various things in those realms.